Sunday, October 10, 2010

what else could i do?

When I was a girl, about eight or so, I fell in love with those little historical biographies of Dolly Madison and Martha Washington and Pocahontas and Clara Barton, etc. Though that old Kentucky library is long gone, I can still recall standing by that particular shelf near the window and gazing at all those delicious books. I had my favorites and Jennie Lind was one of them. So when I read this in my devotional book recently, I was cast back to the past in a very meaningful way.

I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord. ~Philippians 3:8

The Swedish Nightingale, Jennie Lind, won great success as an operatic singer, and money poured into her purse. Yet she left the stage while she was singing her best, and never returned to it. She must have missed the money, the fame, and the applause of thousands, but she was content to live in privacy.

Once an English friend found her sitting on the steps of a bathing machine on the sea sands with a Bible on her knee, looking into the glory of a sunset. They talked, and the conversation drew near to the inevitable question: "Oh, Madame Goldschmidt, how is it that you came to abandon the stage at the very height of your success?"

"When every day," was the quiet answer, "it made me think less of this (laying a finger on the Bible) and nothing at all of that (pointing to the sunset), what else could I do?" ~Springs in the Valley

This devotional was so touching I highlighted it to read again and again. Although few of us will ever be in a position like Jenny Lind with her overwhelming success, it's good to remember WHO we serve and why we must keep Him at the forefront of our lives and ministry, no matter what it is He's called us to do.

Do you remember reading those little historical bios, too? Did you have a favorite? I think our love of history starts very early:) Better yet, what do Jenny Lind's timeless words mean to you today?


  1. I think her words are important. I have been reading a lot of Daniel and other books in the Bible and a lot of people's downfall is putting yourself before or even above God. As Christ said,"What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?"(Matthew16:26). Care to share the name of your devotional book? I so enjoy devotional books.

  2. Adge, Oh, the verse you have here is perfect. And I love that Jesus himself said it. Daniel is also so rich with truths. And he was a great example of obedience in the face of temptation even down to the food he ate (or wouldn't!). Thanks so much for that.

    My devotional book is an old one that is still in print - Springs in the Valley by Mrs. Charles E. Cowman. She and her husband were pioneer missionaries in Japan and China from 1901-1917. Her first devotional book, Streams in the Desert, was written before its companion, Springs in the Valley. I hope you can get them. They are amazing! I start my day with Streams and end it with Springs:)

  3. Oh, dear me! I love this post. I also fell in love with those little historical biographies as a child. My library didn't have Jenny Lind, though. I know because I remember ALL the others: Martha Washington, Dolly Madison, Louisa May Alcott, Abigail Adams, Narcissa Whitman, Betsy Ross, Clara Barton, Lucretia Mott, Molly Pitcher, Julia Ward Howe, Harriette Beecher Stowe, Nancy Hanks, Rachel Jackson....Ahhh, reading them was pure bliss!

    Thank you for sharing this devotion with us. It is so inspiring. I need to get Springs in the Valley. I already bought Streams in the Desert at your recommendation and have enjoyed it but haven't really dug into it yet.

    Love the picture of the bookshelf in this post. That is a dream for the little girl in me!

  4. Mary,
    Love your list! I was trying to think of more names and you did it for me:) And your excitment over remembering mirrors mine. I LOVED those books. I wish I had a set of my own but they are likely all out of print or have been revised and remarketed so much that I wouldn't even recognize them. Sigh.

    Bless you for chiming in!!

  5. A-choo! So was it this blog that gave me my cold, lol. Or maybe mine gave you yours ;)
    I have always loved biographies! I remember my grandparents had an encyclopedia set (something I think is extinct now with google?) and I loved to find the entry on "Annie Oakley" and my grandpa would read it to me and we'd talk about the little girl who was such a sharp shooter. I just thought that was the best thing ever :)

  6. Beautiful thoughts! Godly men and women of the past have so much to teach us. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Laura, go to amazon, type in "Childhood of Famous Americans series." They're paperbacks now, but they are the same books you remember. I read them too, I can still visualize them in my elementary school library. My favorites were Abigail Adams, Dolley Madison, Sacajawea, and Sitting Bull. I agree our love of history starts early. Mine started in 4th grade, which just happens to be when I started reading those biographies.

    I loved the devotional. I do believe I needed to read it tonight. Reminds me a little of our current series at church. We're in the middle of a series on people in the Old Testament. This morning was Esther, and her story is one of my favorites in the Bible. We've been getting a devotional/study booklet each week. I'm really looking forward to starting this one.

    The church opened the inside of Lexington Mall up to us today. In fact we went there for communion, and a walk through. I love how everything is planned!

  8. Heather, Oh I love your memory with your grandpa:) AND I LOVE(D) encyclopedias, too, and can hardly believe they're a thing of the past (online encyclos are just NOT quite the same). My grandma was a dealer so we had a set or two and they were such a treat like you said. And I LOVE Annie Oakley, too! She and Red Shirt (the real one) were in the Wild West Show together. Sigh. Those were the days.

    Hoping you are over this cold quick! Mine is a stubborn bug but seems to go with our rainy weather. Try to soak up some sun there and let that vitamin D drive that cold bug away!

  9. Renee,
    So good to see you here! I just popped over to your blog and was admiring your student photos:) I savor blogs like yours a little at a time. Reminds me of my teaching days. And you are so right ~ people of the past have so much to teach us in the present. Thank you for that!

  10. Michelle,
    YES! They are the very ones:) Ah, a blast from the past, for sure. I am tempted to order every one! Thanks so much for the tip. I remember that we talked about this before but I couldn't wade through all those back posts to get to the comments. You really delivered:)

    I think the mall will be a wonderful place for Southland to grow and expand with all their programs. Next time I'm home I will have to see how that is going. Very exciting to be a part of that, I'm sure! I don't think I'd ever get tired of studying Esther. It's such a unique book and has some classic lines. "For such a time as this..." That may be the Frantz paraphrase but it is a rich if tiny book! I love the story of Joseph, too, as it is so very dramatic when he reunites with his brothers. Endless inspiration!

  11. Michelle, You can actually, per Amazon, buy the series used for only 1 cent each:) Now that's quite a deal!

  12. Exactly as she said - when something gets in the way of our relationship with the Lord, it is time to let it go. Thanks for sharing this.

  13. Hmmm...this is a neat post, because I've just been talking with my mother-in-law about history and thinking about adding a historical component on a weekly basis.

    I was looking for some biographies. I'll have to look into these. Would they be too difficult for read-aloud with a 5-year-old do you think?

  14. Julia, I think they'd be perfect, especially with you reading them aloud. Would be interesting to offer a few to her and see which one she wanted to read first? I think your library might have or they have them for 1 cent on Amazon used. Often they are like new as I frequently choose the "used like new" ones. The past can teach us so much. Let me know how it goes if you try it.

    Also, how is your mom? I was thinking of her today (praying, too) and felt compelled to ask. Hoping she is feeling better.

  15. Well said, Carrie. I think that is why the devotional spoke to me. Nothing is worth losing the least bit of Him.
    Bless you!

  16. You know, I don't think you even need to be famous any more to lose sight of Him. The world is so full of so many distractions that pull us in different directions...even noble things like work or pursuing a writing career. :-)

    I loved reading biographies when I was a child as well. And I seemed to gravitate towards historicals even then. Loved E. Nesbitt, Louisa May Alcott, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Sydney Taylor. Blissful sigh.

    And since you are on the topic of biographies I'm going to ask if anyone has read a Louisa May Alcott biography that begins with Louisa riding down a hill in a barrel? Or maybe it's a large hoop made out of the barrel? It's the very first chapter and I LOVED that book but haven't been able to find it since. I think it was published in the 40's or maybe 50's. It was the first biography I ever read. I frequent used bookstores and flea markets looking for this specific book but have yet to find it.

  17. Laura, I'm going to look for them at the library and see what she thinks. I've been wanting to introduce history. I would love to hear sometime if you had favorite history curriculums since I know that is one of your passions. Its one subject I can't wait to teach :)

    My mom is doing a little better. She's still not getting around too good. The doctor wants her to go to PT. She is reluctant to go because of the cost, but I'm trying to convince her. Thanks for the prayers :)

  18. Laura, I'm not sure I remember the biography series you're talking about, but this post reminded me of the historical novels I fell in love with as a kid - it was sort of a where were you (blank) series, I think...?? I specifically remember one about the Alamo and another about the Oregon Trail. LOVED them!

  19. Kav,
    First, HAPPY THANKSGIVING!! I am wondering if you are having turkey or anything up there or is that a hopelessly American type thing? Anyway, hope your day is full of blessings and good books and writing time if not pumpkin pie:)

    I may well have read that as the barrel incident does sound familiar! I will keep an eye out for that now that I know you would give your right hand to have it! I tend to love perusing old dusty shelves in shops... Those book memories are blissful to me, too, and others here. Our love affair with the written word started very young, it seems:)

    And I so appreciate your point that you don't have to be famous to be terribly and utterly distracted. AMEN! Temptations and time wasters are everywhere. I'm battling that myself with not being online quite as much.

    Anyway, will be looking for that book and if I find I know where to send it!

  20. Ruth, YES ~ the Alamo and Orgeon Trail!! Though you are much younger than I am, I think we have fallen in love with the same series though it's been repackaged:) Ah, book bliss...

    Enjoying that Lifeway blog immensely, BTW!

  21. Julia,
    Thanks for the update on your mom. I know that is a big concern. Will pray the door will open for her to go to therapy somehow if that would help her.

    I will also check around on hx curric. for homeschoolers. Mine was very lacking and we relied on books like Laura Ingalls Wilder. Wyatt, almost 14, has Farmer Boy up on his bookshelf in his bedroom facing OUT so he can look at it. I think it is because he has such fond memories of us reading it when he was little. Everything else is under his bed! He says it's because the book has so many vivid descriptions of food:)

  22. Hi Laura!
    I wish I had something to add as far as little historical bios go, but I'm afraid my love of reading is fairly new- I guess I'm a late bloomer ;) But, i really enjoyed reading about your own experiences and what helped to shape your love of history :) AND, I just had to tell you how much that beautiful devotional touched me.

    "When every day," was the quiet answer, "it made me think less of this (laying a finger on the Bible) and nothing at all of that (pointing to the sunset), what else could I do?"

    :0 WOW, what powerful and profound words! I cannot tell you how much I needed this, my friend. Truth like this reaches into the soul, lighting a match to the most hidden places of the heart. Oh, that I would have a heart like Jenny's, that would seek the Lord above all else! What an inspiring woman- I wonder if she knew that what she said would impact people across the centuries? Makes you wonder if we will ever say something that could stand the test of time and touch a soul years after we've passed on. It's amazing to think of the legacy we have the ability to leave behind... may it be counted unto the glory of God!

    Recently I read an amazing quote by Jim Elliot, and I think it has a united heart with this devotional: "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." Amen!

    Thank you so very much for sharing this with us, dear Laura. Praying you have a beautiful week in Jesus :)

    Amanda Stanley

  23. Oh Amanda,
    I was so in hopes you would check in! When I found this Jenny devotional I thought you might like. I hope I can remember it for a long time. Your own words are so memorable and full of truth. And you quoted something that fits so very well here by Jim Elliot. He's the reason my brother went onto the mission field in Ecuador. Little did he know that his short life would be impacting us today.

    I think it's so interesting to hear that you came on the reading scene a bit late, like you said. I'd love to know what triggered your latent love of books? You are certainly a bonafide reader now and I'm so very thankful!!

    May you have a wonderful week in Jesus, too, dear Amanda. See you here again soon!

  24. It's so funny to think about because I can't even imagine my life without books now, LOL! But, growing up I just never had a desire to read, and I'm not even sure why? I only read what was assigned to me by teachers and I absolutely hated having to write book reports. Who knew I'd grow up to love not only reading, but writing reviews about the books?! All I know is, my children are going to start their love of reading in utero- I'm gonna make sure of it ;)

    And, as far as the "trigger" - well, it was Tamera Alexander. I read her book "The Inheritance" and just feel in love!! It opened up my eyes and heart to a whole new world and I've been enjoying every second of it ever since :D

    And, that is so wonderful that Jim Elliot was the inspiration for your brother going out on the mission field! I pray for him and his family whenever the Lord brings them to mind. What they do is so amazing and I pray the Lord will bless them richly for being His hands and feet to the lost and hurting. I'm sure he has impacted so many with his life and testimony, just like his big sister :)

    Amanda Stanley

  25. Kav, the series I mentioned does have a Louisa May Alcott bio. It was likely originally published in the 1940's or 50's. You could check amazon, I think there are some pages available. I know I haven't read the one on Louisa May Alcott. I always read the ones on political leaders or their wives. My love of political history started very early. ;) Happy Thanksgiving to you!

    Laura, no you didn't paraphrase "for such a time as this..." At least that's the language used in my NIV. Needless to say, my pastor mentioned that verse this weekend. Will think about you tomorrow. My small group is meeting at the Panera here on Richmond Road. I'll be leading our discussion. We're doing a five week study on Mary and Martha. This will be the first time I've led discussion.

  26. Michelle,
    Will be thinking of you and praying as you lead at Paneras! Heavenly:) I know it will be wonderful. I'm wishing I had that to look forward to myself.

    Bless you for helping Kav track down that beloved book:)

  27. Amanda,
    I so appreciate your prayers for my brother and family. They're in Spain now after 19 years in Ecuador and it's a big transition. It's neat to think we're both in ministry. Thanks for that reminder! Of course we're all in ministry, even if we don't think so:)

    So NEAT to hear that a CBA author kindled your love of reading!! I'm the happy recepient:) I was using your lovely address labels this morning to mail out 2 more books and they just make me so HAPPY. Plus they look wonderful on packages!! Thank you again for that wonderful gift.

    I love that you plan to read to your kids in the womb:) I read to my boys very early and am hoping it pays off. Right now they're all action and don't stay in one spot for very long except to read a magazine or the back of a cereal box. Am hoping that changes in time. Am glad you have the rest of your life to enjoy books! Mine among them:) Thanks for letting us know how you crossed over from being a non-reader to an avid reader. I'm thinking that is rarer than you think! Bless you today!

  28. LOL, that's kind of funny about Farmer Boy...because your son is not the first boy I've heard say that :). I can't wait to read the Little House books to Elizabeth. I'm considering Sonlight for next year...if I can find it used for cheap enough.

    Thanks so much for your prayers for Mom.

  29. Julia,
    I think my sister in law used Sonlight and really liked it. Hope you can too as I'm thinking as savvy as you are on the web you'll be able to find a good deal. I wish homeschooling materials weren't so expensive. I never bought the teacher guides/keys as that always upped the price. Sometimes I would only buy certain units to keep costs down, etc.

    I just saw that you're guesting on TWA. Will be over:)

  30. I love historical bios, I've read so many I think I've lost count. The legacy of those who have gone before us is so inspiring to me - especially something like the honest words that you shared from Jenny Lind. I'm so glad you shared this!

  31. Carla,
    I'm so glad you came over as I've so missed you!! I think Jenny's words are beautiful and timeless. I hope I never forget them. Since you're a history lover like me I hoped you would savor them:)

  32. And I do. I'm also a Swede so I take special note of Jenny Lind.

  33. One of the very best books I have ever read is "Courting Morrow Little" Of coures I have read the second book you have written also. It was very good. Are there going to be more books about Captain Jack or her dad. I would love a continuation of these two books.

    Keep up the good work.


  34. Peggy, Welcome! And bless you so very much for your gracious words. I'm so happy you like my books! They were a joy to write and I'm so glad they blessed you!

    I had planned to do a sequel and actually did write a continuation of Captain Jack and Ezekial Click's stories. But my publisher requested something else so I wrote Morrow's story instead. Maybe one day I can get back to Captain Jack and Lael's dad. I'd love to do that as I really miss those characters! And I sense you do, too:)

    I'll be talking about future books and would love to see more of you here. Bless you today!